Friday, September 30, 2011

A few flippant impressions of WayForward's Mighty Flip Champs DX (PSP Minis)

OK, so most people wouldn't describe the impressions below as "flippant." Honestly, I only used the word in the headline above because I liked how it complemented the "Flip" in Mighty Flip Champs DX.

With that out of the way, here are my initial impressions of this WayForward-developed, PSP-based puzzler-slash-platformer:

1. I really like how this game sounds. The trance-y background tunes are nice, but they're not what I'm talking about here. Instead, I'm talking about the Donkey Kong-esque (or Mario Bros.-ish, if you prefer) sound effects that accompany the protagonist's every step.

2. I also like how it looks. The above-mentioned protagonist, Alta, and her fishman friend, especially. Both are wonderfully realized and animated sprites that hark back to the 8-bit era.

3. That said, I wish I could see the game's graphics more clearly. Everything is so small that it's hard to fully appreciate the sprites that the folks at WayForward took such pains to create.

4. The main reason everything is so small is that the game's developers had to cram two of each stage's "pages" (areas) onto the PSP's otherwise-roomy screen. Although that negatively impacts Mighty Flip Champs DX's graphics, it positively impacts its gameplay (since it allows players to easily see where Alta will be positioned post-flip).

5. Mighty Flip Champs DX may look cute and cuddly, but it's got some serious teeth (i.e., it's tough). The first few stages are so easy that you'd be forgiven for thinking the whole thing is a cakewalk. Then you come to, oh, stage 1-7 and that notion is blown to smithereens as you try again and again (and again, if you're me) to reach Alta's amphibian compadre.

6. The only element of the game that I'm not so sure of at the moment is its emphasis on replaying each stage over and over in order to get the best time. Personally, I'm more of a beat-a-stage-once-and-then-get-on-with-it kind of guy, although I'm sure there are a lot of people who like this sort of gameplay.

So, that's what I think of Mighty Flip Champs DX after playing through its first two worlds. I'll write up a more formal review of the game after I've finished it. In the meantime, have any of you played it--or its DSiWare predecessor? If so, what do you think about it?

See also: 'WayForward's Austin Ivansmith is a pretty awesome guy'

Happy 15th, Nintendo 64!

Can you believe that the Nintendo 64 was released 15 years ago as of yesterday? (Or was it as of today? Wikipedia says it hit the streets in North America on Sept. 29, 1996, while this ad suggests it hit the streets on Sept. 30 of the same year.) I can't.

I think my disbelief has something to do with the fact that I have rather fond memories of Nintendo's most curvaceous of consoles. As such, it sort of feels like the system was released just yesterday--not 15 years ago as of yesterday.

Wikipedia never lies, though, so I'll have to put aside those feelings of disbelief for the moment. Instead, why don't I share a few of my most cherished memories of the console that prompted Nintendo's marketing folks to come up with the oh-so-90s slogan of "Get N, or get Out!"

1. The earliest days of the Nintendo 64 sure were interesting, weren't they? At the time, the system was known as "Project Reality" and everybody believed the system would push graphics that would make high-end computers blush. That didn't mean much to me until I saw some screenshots of what was then called Final Fantasy 64. I know the graphics of this demo are hardly impressive today, but back in 1995 (which is when I first saw them in the pages of Diehard GameFan) they were a revelation.

2. As much as those screenshots piqued my interest in the Nintendo 64, I didn't get one at launch. In fact, I had to wait two months before getting one--for my 20th birthday. I also got a copy of Super Mario 64, of course. Strangely enough, I distinctly remember my college roommate and I playing the hell out of the game that weekend while listening to Cyndi Lauper and Sade. (News flash: He's gay, too--and he bought me both artists' greatest hits albums as birthday gifts.)

3. A year or so later, that same guy and I moved into an apartment (actually, it was more of a townhouse, but that's neither here nor there) with four girls. Surprisingly, all of them were gamers, at least to an extent. Super Mario 64 was our go-to game, and we joyously and regularly took turns playing through its many stages. I don't recall if we ever actually finished the game together, but I wouldn't be surprised if we did. We literally played it every day (and night) for quite some time.

4. If I were forced at gunpoint (hey, it could happen!) to name my favorite Nintendo 64 games of all time, I'd probably go with (in alphabetical order, not necessarily order of preference) F-Zero X, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Paper Mario and Super Mario 64. I also have a soft spot for Mischief Makers and Pokemon Snap.

I'm sure this admission will shock absolutely no one who has been coming to this blog for any amount of time, but all of these memories make me want to go out and buy a Nintendo 64 and a bunch of games. Thankfully, I know the system and at least two of the titles mentioned above are sitting in a closet in my childhood home. Maybe I'll have to have my parents ship them to me for my upcoming birthday--you know, so I can traipse through Super Mario 64 for old times' sake.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All you really need to know about Wizorb (XBLIG): Breakout (gameplay) + Genesis (graphics) + The Legend of Zelda (music)

Oh, and it costs just 240 Microsoft Points ($3) and is available now on the the Xbox Live Indies Game service.

Not only is Wizorb--which was made by Justin Cyr, Jonathan Lavigne and Jean-François Major (who recently joined forces to form Tribute Games)--look, sound and play like a dream, but it's backed by a silly story, too.

Here's the gist of it, in case you're curious: The once-peaceful Kingdom of Gorudo is threatened by an evil presence. The only hope for salvation is Cyrus, a wizard versed in a secret magic art called Wizorb!

Wizorb is more than a Breakout clone covered with a cute, somewhat-clichéd, RPG-ish coat of paint, by the way. For starters, there are boss battles. Also, Cyrus' can call on magic spells that affect his "magic wand" (aka his Arkanoid-ish paddle) and/or the stage that surrounds it. Finally, keys can be collected and then used to unlock doors--which lead to bonus items and even Zelda-esque shops--that are located at the back of certain levels.

As cool as I'm guessing that sounds in theory, I can guarantee--after spending a good amount of time with the game last night--that it's even cooler in practice. Honestly, if this were a boxed-and-available-at-retail Genesis/Mega Drive title, I'd pick it up in a heartbeat regardless of the price tag affixed to it. It's that beautiful, charming and fun.

See also: 'Get your Xboxes ready, Breakout fans: Wizorb hits XBLIG on Thursday' and 'Wizorb has awesome box art'

A Link to the Pakoto

I know I've written and published a number of Zelda-focused posts in the past few days. Sorry about that. This will be the last one for a while (or at least the last one this week), I promise!

After coming across the following drawing--officially titled, "Link (quick sketch in table)"--on Flickr this morning, I couldn't help but share it here.

It was drawn by artist Pakoto (or is it Pakotoo? I'm not exactly sure), by the way. For more examples of his work--like the rather stunning trio of Up-inspired pieces seen here--check out his blog or his Flickr photostream.

Going back to Zelda for a second: Did you know that Nintendo has released a new trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? Well, now you do. Watch it here (it's the video on the right).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm surprisingly wary of buying The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Full disclosure: I haven't played a Zelda game since Wind Waker. Actually, scratch that--I played Twilight Princess for about an hour before giving up on it for some reason that I can't remember.

Given that, I'm a bit wary of buying Skyward Sword, despite the fact that I very much like what I've seen of this upcoming Wii release--which seems to harken back to the series' glory days (i.e., The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time). I mean, will I buy it and then simply stare at its box, as I have with its predecessor, or will I actually play through a Zelda game for the first time since the above-mentioned Nintendo 64 iteration? (Yes, you read that right: I played Wind Waker but never finished it.)

The one thing that likely will spur me to pick up Skyward Sword despite the reservations shared above is the gold Wii Remote Plus that will be included with the limited edition of the game. (That version will be released in North America on Nov. 20. Pre-order it here.)

Are any of you similarly unsure as to whether or not you will be buying Skyward Sword? If so, what are your qualms with this, the eighth Zelda game to be released for a Nintendo console (not including Four Swords Adventures and Link's Crossbow Training, of course)--and what will it take for you to quell them?

See also: 'Let's Play: Which Box Art is Better? (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword edition)'

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword edition)

While working up a post (that should be published tomorrow) about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I came across the art that seemingly will grace the covers of the standard and limited editions of this much-anticipated Wii game. Well, you know what that means: Another round of "Which Box Art is Better?"

The following piece of art will appear on the "limited edition" versions of the game that will hit store shelves in Europe on Nov. 18, North America on Nov. 20 and Japan on Nov. 23. (Pre-order the North American limited edition here and the standard edition here.)

As far as I can tell, the art above will also appear on the "standard" versions of the game that will be sold in Europe and North America, while the art below, which I nabbed from, will appear on the standard version that will be sold in Japan:

Which one do I prefer? Well, I usually like Zelda games to have golden covers, but this time I'm casting my vote for Japan's shimmery, summery standard edition.

Which piece of box art do all of you prefer and why?

See also: Previous 'Which Box Art is Better?' posts

Monday, September 26, 2011

This t-shirt design confuses me

I mean, why is the NES in the t-shirt design seen below high-fiving a Genesis? Shouldn't the NES be high-fiving an SNES instead? I know some will suggest that it should be high-fiving a Master System, but that would be even more confusing to me than the NES high-fiving a Genesis.

Anyway, let's save that mind-numbing discussion for another day. Instead, let's talk about the t-shirt above, which was designed by Roger Biersborn. Isn't it cute? If you agree, and if you're dying to add another game-related t-shirt to your collection, head on over to soon, because it'll only be sold (for $10) for the next 22 or so hours.

Get your Xboxes ready, Breakout fans: Wizorb hits XBLIG on Thursday

What's Wizorb, you ask? Why, it's the Breakout-clone-slash-RPG that Justin Cyr, Jonathan Lavigne--of Ninja Senki and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game fame--and Jean-François Major have been working on for the past six months.

For those of you who haven't seen it already, here's the game's "debut trailer," which Lavigne shared with the world (via his blog, a few months ago:

As the headline above suggests, the Xbox Live Indie Games version of Wizorb will be released this Thursday via Tribute Games. (A PC version is in the works, too, although its release date has yet to be announced.)

Here's hoping I can either secure a review copy of the game shortly after it's released or scrounge up enough dough to pay for it. Otherwise, it'll probably have to wait until my birthday (which is two months away).

See also: Wizorb has awesome box art

Hooked on Pikmin?

If so, you might want to nab one of the Pikmin crochet patterns that are currently being sold (for $5 each, here) via Annie Johansson's (aka Liebe9's) etsy shop.

Here's what the final products look like, by the way. Aren't they adorable? I think I like the Dumbo-esque yellow Pikmin the best, although all three of them are so cute I could puke.

I don't know a "chain stitch" from a "single crochet," so I'd personally prefer it if Johansson sold completed crocheted Pikmin characters, but I can understand why she doesn't.

Johansson does sell "already made" Ocarina of Time amigurumis (for $35, buy one here), though, so if you just have to own some sort of game-related craft, they're probably your best bet for the time being.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Question of the day: What are some of your favorite gaming blogs?

I know I often publish posts in which I ramble on about gaming blogs that have captured my attention for one reason or another, but today I'm turning the tables and asking all of you to tell me about any such blogs (or tumblogs) that trip your proverbial trigger.

Oh, and please feel free to pimp out your own game-related blogs or tumblogs, especially if it seems that I don't know about them already (i.e., they don't appear in the "other great sites for gay gamers" section on the right side of this blog).